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Health Care & Environment

10.17 Could carbon-capture technology be a silver bullet to stop climate change?

10.17 So many animals will go extinct in the next 50 years that it will take Earth at least 3 million years to recover, a study has found

10.16 Can We Go Electric Before It’s Too Late?

10.16 'I leave the car at home': how free buses are revolutionising one French city [with electric or hydrogen buses the cities can be much less polluted and cleaner with far fewer cars]

10.16 Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

10.16 Scottish Power shifts to 100% wind generation after £700m Drax sale

10.16 Australia should be 'exporting sunshine, not coal', economist Jeffrey Sachs tells Q&A

10.15 'It'll change back': Trump says climate change not a hoax, but denies lasting impact [1:10 video; comfortable in his willful ignorance and denial, catastropic effects will be sooner and greater for doing nothing]

News Media Matters

10.16 The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire [Distorting news and issues "analysis" almost completely where cable and Internet are least available]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.18 Are You Kidding Me?' Outrage as Democrats Push 'Incremental Steps' Over Bold Agenda Needed to Save Planet from Climate Catastrophe [Neoliberals still control Democratic Party leadership...]

10.18 Republicans are ramming through more judges — by holding hearings when everyone is out of town

10.18 Trump says selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will create a lot of jobs. That’s not true.

10.18 Republicans were supposed to run on their tax cuts. Instead, they’re running away from them.

10.18 The new Republican midterm strategy is to copy Democratic ideas

10.18 Beto O’Rourke shows Democrats how to talk about climate change

10.18 The Democrats’ Incredible Shrinking Message

10.18 'Lives Hang in the Balance': 21 Days Before Midterms, McConnell Admits GOP Still Salivating to Gut Medicare and Social Security

10.17 Republican lawmakers react to the IPCC report – ‘we have scientists’ too!

10.16 The biggest political problem in America, explained in one chart

10.16 GOP plan to get Americans off food stamps puts 4 million children and seniors at risk [What would Jesus say?]

10.15  3,121 desperate journeys  Exposing a week of chaos under Trump's zero tolerance

10.15 We need tax police – and they should go after the likes of Donald Trump [growing the mafia-state; to the extent allowed all tax evaded results in additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

10.14 Goodbye, Political Spin, Hello Blatant Lies


10.13 With Campaign Only 'Powered by People,' Beto O'Rourke Shatters All-Time Senate Fundraising Record With $38 Million Haul [nullifying Citizens United—that empowers corporations and the super-rich—with a pledged commitment returns democracy powered by the people!]

Justice Matters

10.18 Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model? [Obviously!]

High Crimes?

10.18 Nicaragua used 'weapons of war' to kill protesters, says Amnesty International [why refugee immigrants rightly see jail in the US as an improvement]

10.18 How We Can End the Saudis’ War in Yemen [There is NO EXCUSE for War Crimes]

10.12 Israel’s Illegal Blockade of Palestinian Civilians in Gaza has doubled Unemployment to 50% [5:51 video]

10.12 Trump Says Murder Shouldn’t Stop Saudi Weapon Sales Because ‘We Have Jobs’ [Morals and laws be damned! Trump grows his mafia-state for patron and personal profit]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.17 Britain fell for a neoliberal con trick – even the IMF says so

10.11 Climate change will make the next global crash the worst

International & Futurism

10.18 Audio Offers Gruesome Details of Jamal Khashoggi Killing, Turkish Official Says

10.18 Khashoggi Is The Tip Of The Bloody Iceberg: 10 More Reasons to Cut the US-Saudi Alliance

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up [the world needs mutually-beneficial moral friendships among nations, not high-risk emotional outbursts]

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up

10.17 Jamal Khashoggi: gory reports of killing emerge as Pompeo meets Erdogan [What explains Trump's opinion and behavior?]

10.16 Our leaders are destroying our future. Wentworth must be a referendum on climate change

10.16 Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with 'golden passport' schemes published [mafia-states are increasing and growing, threatening financial health of non-mafia states where tax evaded becomes additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

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  The Embarrassing Republican Friends of Planetary Defense
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The Embarrassing Republican Friends of Planetary Defense

The obvious problem with the two Republican friends of planetary defense is that they are far from paragons of rational scientism.
Is defending the Earth from catastrophic collisions with enormous chunk of cosmic debris an American responsibility? That’s the question The New York Times reporter Warren E. Leary has William Ailor asking at the March 5-8, 2007 Planetary Defense Conference at Georgetown University: “Should one nation, the United States,” queries conference chair Ailor, “be responsible for the entire planet?” The short answer to his question is “yes.” The United States is responsible for protecting the entire planet by detecting and deflecting any killer asteroids or comets heading toward Earth.

In principle, of course, other countries with serious space programs—Russia, China, Japan and the 17 member states that cooperate through the European Space Agency—should all be willing to shoulder a proportionate share of the costs of defending the planet from the statistically non-trivial threat of enormous, fast-moving space debris. Moreover the other 180-plus countries that lack serious space programs also should chip in their share of the costs of protecting our common and only home. However, such a collective assumption of responsibility is precisely what scholars of international politics would not predict. Instead they would predict rational rather than principled action. What that means is that while several of the space powers might be willing to shoulder minor parts of the burden, they would join every other country on the planet in allowing the United States to assume most of the responsibility.

The problem with achieving any proportionate cost sharing in this is that defense against catastrophic space debris strikes is an exceedingly pure public good. That’s because the devastation caused by a kilometer-long asteroid smacking the Earth would be planet-wide, and as a consequence detecting and deflecting it would benefit everyone else on the planet just as much as it would Americans. What that means is that there is no way to exclude any country from benefiting from American efforts to provide this public good, even if only for the United States. The result is an open invitation to ‘free ride.”

That the rational pursuit of individual self-interest or national interest undermines cooperation to provide public goods is one of the more frequent observations made by social scientists. That helps to explain why the United States assumed a disproportionately high share of the total military spending among NATO member states during the Cold War and why the British Navy undertook the heavy lifting to suppress the Atlantic slave trade in the 19th century. So although it inevitably results in the sort of complaint expressed in William Ailor’s question, the weak often exploit the strong in international efforts to provide public goods.

Scientific and statistical illiteracy that prevents most Americans from understanding the nature of the threat from cosmic debris.
Politics of a different sort was obviously on the minds of many of the presenters at the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference. Comments made during the panel discussion on the last day of the conference reveal frustration about persuading ordinary Americans that the threat is serious and persuading American politicians that more money should be spent on planetary defense. Serious public discussions of doomsday asteroids inevitably encounter giggles that are the result of Hollywood science fiction. Who doesn’t want to forget the execrable 1998 film Armageddon? More important than popular culture is the sort of scientific and statistical illiteracy that prevents most Americans from understanding the nature of the threat. According to Michigan State University political scientist Jon Miller, fewer than 30 percent of American adults can read and understand the science section of The New York Times.

The small number of space science specialists involved in planetary defense ought to be especially alarmed by their friends among elected officials.
The small number of space science specialists involved in planetary defense ought to be especially alarmed by their friends among elected officials. Only two were mentioned by the panelists at the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference: California Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher and Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback. Rohrabacher has supported Federal funding for planetary defense, probably because it is a backdoor to develop space war technology. Brownback has merely suggested holding hearings on planetary defense. The obvious problem with both of these Republican friends of planetary defense is that they are far from paragons of rational scientism. Rohrabacher has expressed skepticism about the anthropocentric causes of current climate change and even suggested that dinosaur flatulence might have played a role in previous warming episodes. Brownback is on record supporting theistic challenges to Darwinian evolution.

The planetary defense crowd desperately needs some new, less embarrassing friends on Capitol Hill.

John Hickman is associate professor of comparative politics at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. His published work on electoral politics, media, and international affairs has appeared in Asian Perspective, American Politics Research, Comparative State Politics, Contemporary South Asia, Contemporary Strategy, Current Politics and Economics of Asia, East European Quarterly, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, Jouvert, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Science, Review of Religious Research, Women & Politics, and Yamanashigakuin Law Review. He may be reached at


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This story was published on March 15, 2007.

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